Lawmakers ask FCC to review data on special access fees

Two senior House lawmakers have asked the FCC to look at data carefully before changing rules on special access fees, which certain carriers pay to backhaul subscribers' voice and data traffic.

In a letter sent last week, Rep. John Dingell (D-Mich.) and Energy and Communications Subcommittee Chairman Rep. Rick Boucher (D-Va.), told FCC Chairman Julius Genachowski to "appropriately balance the scope of its data collection" as it examines the special access fee market.

Last month, Sprint Nextel, T-Mobile USA and U.S. Cellular, along with a coalition called No Choke Points, claimed that the fees charged by big telcos such as AT&T and Verizon Communications were a barrier to expanding broadband access. The coalition said that the two companies control 80 percent to 90 percent of the backhaul network in the United States, and Sprint claimed that one-third of its operating costs for each cell tower are devoted to the access fees. Sprint and the coalition want the FCC to move forward with an inquiry into the issue.

AT&T and Verizon have argued that the FCC does not have the right data to find out whether the market is skewed in favor of the big telcos. Jim Cicconi, a senior vice president at AT&T, said in a letter sent to Congress that looking at all of the data for access lines and prices would show "an abundance of facilities and well-functioning market-based pricing."

For more:
- see this Dow Jones Newswires article (sub. req.)

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